Apr 05

Why It Went Wrong For Lastings Milledge

I will remember it as if I saw it yesterday for the first time.

A sheet of notebook paper, with the words, “Know your place, rook … signed, your teammates,’’ was taped over Lastings Milledge’s locker in the Mets’ clubhouse in old RFK Stadium. This, in the late summer in 2006.

MILLEDGE: Once he burned bright.

MILLEDGE: Once he burned bright.

The Mets were en route to the playoffs and a veteran laden team was rubbed the wrong way by Milledge’s brashness and arrogance. Then-manager Willie Randolph – who reprimanded Milledge several times that summer – ripped down the sign, but knew he hadn’t ripped away the problem.

The Mets labeled it a misunderstanding, and Randolph called Milledge “a good kid,’’ but this clearly was not a misunderstanding with a teammate. It was the accumulation of several incidents that rankled several teammates.

Milledge burst upon the Mets, hitting over .300, was dazzling on the bases and showed a strong arm. He was going to be the next “fill in the blank.’’ Willie Mays? Roberto Clemente?

However, things quickly cooled after his first career homer, when on his way to the outfield he high-fived fans down the right field line in Shea Stadium. Randolph sensed how the Giants seethed in their dugout, especially since he saw some of his own players do the same.

Randolph reprimanded Milledge on the unwritten laws in baseball, but it didn’t take. There were ground balls he didn’t run out and times he didn’t hustle in the outfield. He was flash with the jewelry swinging wildly on the field, but in the clubhouse he often sat buried in his locker wearing headphones or playing a video game.

He came off as sullen and angry and clearly couldn’t be bothered by getting to know his teammates. Or, a baseball legend for that matter. During spring training then-GM Omar Minaya brought Milledge to the Nationals dugout to meet Frank Robinson, but Milledge was came off as being in-different.

Finally, he arrived in the clubhouse in Philadelphia an hour before a day game. Although it was early, the veterans made it in on time. David Wright had enough when Milledge strolled in with sunglasses and an iPod as if he owned the place and told him this wasn’t acceptable.

Wright wouldn’t belabor the issue Opening Day, only managing to say “seniority is big in this game,’’ which is the politically-correct translation for Milledge hadn’t earned his stripes.

Milledge popped into my consciousness today when I learned it was his 28th birthday, an age when he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, Milledge is one of hundreds of baseball prospects given the label of “can’t miss, but eventually did.’’

Seven years ago – the career lifetime of a select few – the Mets had three prized outfield prospects in Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Francisco Martinez. One by one they arrived, fizzled to the point of exasperation and were traded. Not one of them hustled like journeyman outfielder Collin Cowgill.

After turning down several proposals for Manny Ramirez, the Mets eventually traded Milledge to Washington as part of a trade that brought Ryan Church – he of the concussion fiasco – and catcher Brian Schneider. Milledge had his coffee to go with Washington, then Pittsburgh and finally the White Sox before heading to Japan. Milledge had his head-scratching moments in each place, but basically stopped hitting.

At 28, Milledge is still young. It’s about discipline in Japan and if Milledge comes back with a changed attitude perhaps he’ll get another chance. It’s a long way to Japan, and perhaps an even longer route back to the major leagues.

ON DECK: The 73 Series continues with “Ya Gotta Believe” slogan


Apr 03

Matt Harvey: Ace In Making

There is a likable quality to Matt Harvey having nothing to do with his pitching.

He speaks with confidence that doesn’t border arrogance. He has a big time arm without the big time attitude. He’s attentive to your questions, and thoughtful and respectful with his answers.

Harvey has a big time future, but doesn’t come across as a big timer. The tip-off is he carries his dirty T-shirt and shorts to the laundry bin instead of leaving them on the floor for the clubhouse attendant.

HARVEY: Has the right stuff. (AP)

HARVEY: Has the right stuff. (AP)

He’s acutely aware of the expectations, vocalized in the ovation he received Opening Day Monday at Citi Field, second only to David Wright in terms of length and volume.

“It was great,’’ Harvey said. “It made me feel very good.’’

Now comes the hard part, living up to the expectations of those in the stands, his teammates behind him in the field, and most of all himself.

“He has a lot going for him,’’ Wright said. “He carries himself well and pitches with confidence. We believe in him.’’

Injuries thrust Harvey into the Mets’ rotation last July and he responded, pitching with guile, poise and command. Other times, not so much. In ten starts, Harvey went 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA, including an 11-strikeout debut at Arizona. He wasn’t impressive in his lone start against the Padres, giving up five runs, but lasting five innings.

Based on last year’s numbers, there is a multitude of scouting reports and statistical projections of him. Harvey wants to hear none of that and cites one number.

“Innings are most important,’’ said Harvey. “I want to pitch over 200 innings. If I can do that, the rest will come.’’

Harvey accomplished much last year, but didn’t win at Citi Field. He gets his chance tonight against the Padres.

“It’s a new season and everybody wants to get that first win out of the way,’’ Harvey said on Opening Day. “Pitching at Citi Field is awesome. … [Tonight] is going to be a lot of fun for me. I’m really excited about it and after watching [Jon] Niese out there [Monday], it was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to my turn.’’

The original scouting report on Harvey was sketchy, but he’s no longer a surprise. Every team has him on film and knows his tendencies. That’s why it is important to tone down your expectations because often a pitcher hits a wall in his second year and realizes what he counted on before might not work now.

Harvey said his sophomore year is about making adjustments. He realizes he can’t get by on just a fastball. He realizes he can’t overpower everybody. He realizes he must bring more to the table.

“You can’t get into a routine and rhythm of doing the same things over and over again,’’ said Harvey, who had a spectacular 2.96 ERA in seven starts this spring.

“I think that kind of carried over into spring training too, facing a couple of teams, the Nationals, things like that. Those guys have seen me before. It’s just going out and attacking the zone and try to mix in different pitches in different counts and hopefully not leading every guy off with a fastball, or something like that.’’

There are nights Harvey can dominate, as he did the Diamondbacks. However, strikeouts cause the pitch count to add up, and with it, the possibility of coming out of a game early.

“I want them to put the ball in play,’’ Harvey said. “I want to keep my pitch count down and that will give me length.’’

Yes, Harvey has a plus fastball, but said it’s important to throw his curveball and change-up for strikes, especially in a fastball count.

“I can’t have them waiting on the fastball,’’ said Harvey, repeating the mantra of ever pitcher outside a knuckleballer.

If he does that, those expectations will be met, and with that, come even higher expectations.

Apr 01

Mets Slam The Padres In 11-2 Opening Day Win



collin cowgill grand slam

Cowgill’s Grand Slam puts exclamation point on Mets 11-2 win.

This game’s over and the Mets pounded the Padres 11-2 today at Citi Field.

It was an “All Hands On Deck Effort” by this revamped Mets team which was great to see.

Collin Cowgill with a huge Mets debut and big contributions also from Byrd, Buck, Wright, Tejada, Murphy and of course Jon Niese who looked sharp in his first start of the season.

Fun game and it was fun live blogging it for you.

Thanks to John – our man in the booth, and Clayton – our roving reporter/photographer, for all their help.


8th Inning


7th Inning

Jon Niese’s first Opening Day start is over: 6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, HR. 101 pitches, 62 strikes. Brandon Lyon in.

Cowgill just hit a grand slam that just made it over the wall and Mets tack on four more runs!.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow!

Mets 11. Padres 2

6th Inning

After a scoreless fifth, Niese got touched up for a home run in the top of the sixth. No harm no foul. He talked Collins into staying in and pitch the seventh inning. 12 of his 19 outs were all groundouts.

Mets 7, Padres 2

4th Inning

Cowgill hustles for a double and moves Niese to third. Then the Birthday Boy, Daniel Murphy, drives Niese home with a single to make it 5-1 Mets.

Wright picks up an RBI on a groundout to score Cowgill.

Byrd drives hom Murphy with a two-our TBI and the Mets are blowing this game wide open!

Niese is having a solid start…

Mets 7, Padres 1


3rd Inning

The Mets score two more runs in the inning. Tejada, Byrd, Buck all getting into the act. It’s utter pandemonium!

Mets 4, Padres 1

2nd Inning


Ruben Tejada doubles home John Buck who chugs home to score the first run of the game. Deep breaths, John. :-)

Slugger Jon Niese singles Tejada home for the Mets second run and the Mets are on top 2-0 after two innings.

I told you we had this! :-)

Keith Hernandez is not loving the sea of orange t-shirts in right-center and calls them a distraction. He doesn’t like Volquez’ necklace either. Somebody give Mex a Tootsie Roll pop!

Mets 2, Padres 0

1st Inning

It’s scoreless after one, Wright got on after an error, but it could have easily been a hit. Who’s scoring this game, Alex68?


1:15 PM Update

12:45 PM Update

what a view citi field opening day

Awesome shot sent in by Clayton…

met tweet

Don’t just stand there… Do something! :-)

Dorian and Sebastian here for Sebastian's first opening day

These two die-hards are here for their first ever Mets Opening Day!

eddie kranepool

Eddie Wilkowski made Stephen Keane of the Kranepool Society happy with this pic…


Me and John are doing a weekly feature saluting the ’73 Mets and Eddie was nice enough to chime in!

11:45 AM Update

ed coop joey

MMO’s Coop, Ed and Joey never miss a Mets Opening Day!

BTW, Congrats to Joey our new MMO Senior Editor! :-)

clayton brick

Clayton was happy to see his Fan Walk Brick was still looking as good as new.

Jed Gyorko of the Padres family here to see him make his MLB debut

Padres rookie Jedd Gyorko has his family here to see him make his MLB debut.

Omar Minaya here! With Bud Black

Hey! Omar Minaya is here and chillin’ with Bud Black!

kevin burkhardt

Kevin Burkhardt is dressed to the nines…


When the Mets are introduced this afternoon, there will be only nine players who were on last year’s Opening Day roster. Give a big hand to your New York Mets!

Catchers (2): John BuckAnthony Recker.

Infielders (5): Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Ike Davis, Ruben TejadaJustin Turner.

Outfielders (6): Jordany Valdespin, Collin Cowgill, Marlon Byrd, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter.

Pitchers (12):  Matt HarveyJeurys FamiliaLaTroy Hawkins, Bobby Parnell, Jonathon Niese, Dillon GeeJeremy Hefner,Scott RiceGreg BurkeJosh EdginScott AtchisonBrandon Lyon.

9:00 AM Update

opening day newstand

A dozen of us from Metsmerized Online have invaded Citi Field and we’ll be Live Blogging the entire day here at MMO. our MMO Fan Correspondent Clayton Collier is the first to report in and the newsstand caught his eye this morning.

John Delcos will be hitting the field and the clubhouse before the game and then will be posting in-game thoughts and some of the action live from the press box. After the game we’ll have a few roving reporters hitting the media room to catch what Terry Collins, David Wright and the rest of the team will have to say.

clayton is ready

Clayton is going in armed and ready and will be donning his new All Star Jersey which he had displayed in his own Mets Hall of Fame along with his replica Citi Field Fan-Walk brick and player signed baseballs.

Opening Day Notes

A Grand Opening Day: Todd Hundley has the only Mets grand slam on Opening Day…Hundley’s slam came on April 26, 1995 at Colorado off Billy Swift.

Opening Day Double-Shots: Robin Ventura, Bobby Bonilla, Cleon JonesDarryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds are the only five players in club history to hit two home runs in an Opening Day tilt…Ventura was the last to accomplish the feat on April 3, 2001 at Atlanta …Bonilla cracked two home runs in his first game as a Met on April 6, 1992 at St. Louis, Jones belted two home runs on April 6, 1975 vs. Philadelphia and Strawberry and McReynolds each hit two home runs on April 4, 1988 at Montreal in a 10-6 triumph.

Opening Day Zeroes: The Mets have recorded seven shutouts on Opening Day…The last time New York held an opponent scoreless on Opening Day was last year when the Mets blanked the Braves, 1-0…Meanwhile, the Mets have been shut out only once (7-0, April 9, 1963 vs. St. Louis) on Opening Day.

Opening Day Extras: The Mets have played six extra-inning games on Opening Day…They are 5-1 in those contests…The last extra-inning affair was a 6-4, 10-inning victory on April 3, 2001 at Atlanta.

Opening Day Ten-Spots: The Mets have scored 10 or more runs four times on Opening Day, including an Opening Day-high 12 runs on April 4, 1994 against the Cubs…New York surrendered an Opening Day-worst 15 runs to the Cubs in a 15-2 setback at Shea on March 31, 2003.

opening day

Apr 01

Mets 2013 Over/Under Stats

Baseball loves its numbers, and for the gambler in all of us let’s look at some of the stats that could drive the 2013 Mets.

It will be fun to look back at the end of the season to see how many of these numbers were reached. (Note: A notation of even indicates that’s the number.)

Total wins: 70. My pick: Over.

Wins for Jon Niese: 15. My pick: Under.

Wins for Matt Harvey: 10. My pick: Over.

Wins for Dillon Gee: 9. My pick: Over.

Date Frank Francisco returns: May 15. My pick: Before.

Ike Davis homers: 35. My pick: Even.

Ike Davis strikeouts: 135: My pick: Over.

Daniel Murphy average: .295. My pick: Over.

Ruben Tejada average: .280. My pick: Under.

David Wright average: .300. My pick: Over.

David Wright homers: 25. My pick: Over.

David Wright strikeouts: 110. My pick: Over.

Lucas Duda homers: 24. My pick: Even.

Lucas Duda strikeouts: 150. My pick: Over.

Bobby Parnell saves: 28. My pick: Under.

Wins vs. Washington: 9. My pick: Under.

Wins vs. Atlanta: 9. My pick: Under.

Wins vs. Philadelphia: 9. My pick: Even,

Wins vs. Miami: 10. My pick: Over.

Wins vs. Yankees: 2. My pick: Even.

Date Mets will be 10 games behind leader. May 25. My pick: Before.

Mets wins at Citi Field: 52: My pick: Under.

Number of staff shutouts: 3. My pick: Even.

Number of times Mets shut out: 10. My pick: Over.

Team homers: 139: My pick: Under.

Staff blown saves: 15. My pick: Over.

Opponents homers: 150. My pick: Over.

Times DL is used: 19: My pick: Over.

First time DL is used: April 20. My pick: Before.

Longest losing streak: 7 games. My pick: Over.

Longest winning streak: 6 games. My pick: Even.

Date Travis d’Arnaud is brought up: June 1. My pick: Later.

Date Zack Wheeler is brought up: June 1. My pick: Before.

Number of Mets pitchers to start games: 11. My pick: Even.

Number of pinch-hit homers for Jordany Valdespin: 2. My pick: Under.

Times Terry Collins is ejected: 5. My pick: Under.

Wins for R.A. Dickey: 17. My pick: Under.

Homers for Jason Bay: 10. My pick: Under.

Date of Jordany Valdespin first tantrum: June 23. My pick: Before.

Number of Mets on Opening Day roster who won’t be on active roster Sept. 1: 4. My pick: Over.

Player acquisitions made prior to July 31 trade deadline: 3. My pick: Under.

Date Mets eliminated from contention: Sept. 15. My pick: Before.

Most games Mets are over .500: 4. My pick: Even.

Mar 31

Doing The Shuffle With Teufel

tim teufel

ESPN New York’s Mark Simon got a chance to talk to Mets third base coach Tim Teufel, and the two of them discussed the team’s infield defense. I highlighted what Teufel had to say about some of the Mets infielders, but you should check out the entire article here.

UZR & Defensive Metrics

“I embrace them. Any time we can use measurements to help us in our coaching, I’m willing to look at it. I felt like (last year’s stats were) very accurate. It had some credibility with me.

Ike Davis

“Ike’s going to be a lot better this year. He’s moving around great. He’s going to his glove side really well. Last year that was a weakness. I think (the ankle) affected his range and his quickness. It limited his ability to push off (and get to that ball). He has good hands, a soft glove. We’ve shortened his stroke on throwing to convert the 3-6-3 a little better. I think that will work.”

Daniel Murphy

“From June on, he was an average to above average second baseman. We want him to increase his range to his glove side. He’s very good on his backhand. And he played in the shift really well. I don’t think he’ll go through the growing pains he went through last year. He looks a lot more comfortable.”

Ruben Tejada

“Ruben is still working his way into game shape (for a shortstop). It’s a demanding position. Positioning is key with him because he’s not as gifted range wise as some other shortstops. We’re working on getting him to understand hitters, the mental part of the game, things like what guys do in RBI situations and with two strikes.”

David Wright

“I actually felt like his backhand was one of the best in the league last season. I think the numbers may be because we overplay some hitters, so we shade him off the line a little bit. We’ve worked with him in the past on his throwing technique, but I think he’s got that wired right now.” ”

David is a step ahead of the other guys, but remember he’s got eight years at third base and all our other (infielders) have two years. He makes pretty good adjustments.”

Teufel got a jolt of good news earlier this week when he learned that the Mets signed his son Sean to a minor league contract.

Unlike his father, Shawn Teufel does his job on a mound. The 26-year-old left-hander pitched at Class-A Lakeland (Detroit Tigers) last season, where he posted a 5-7 record and 6.64 ERA in 22 appearances both as a starter and reliever.

tuff stuff ryne sandberg